May 2008 02

Summer season starts off with a winner with the release of the excellent debut of Marvel as a standalone entity. Directed by Jon Favreau, Iron Man is a success do to its excellent acting, solid humor, and creating a comic book film that is having fun without being super sappy and or hamming things up.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a weapons manufacturing super genius that has lots of money, good looks, and loves to chase women around the city. While on a weapons demonstration in the Middle East Stark is taken hostage by a terrorist cell and is asked to build them his latest missile system, Jericho. We are quickly treated to a 36 hour flash back that shows us who Tony Stark is, cocky, brilliant, quick tongued, always out to have fun, and one hell of a womanizer. We also meet Stark’s assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), his closet thing to a friend and US military Colonel Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard), and the former successor to Stark industries and current second in command Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges).
We get sent back to a cave in the middle of the desert where Stark constructs a crude iron suit, breaking himself out of captivity and having an eye opening experience to what his legacy on the world is going to end up being. With his new look on life, Stark returns to stop war instead of supply it and this is where things begin to get a little hairy for everyone.
I will share no more on the plot, but the pacing in this film is solid, never blazing, but solid. You won’t find yourself checking your watch or ever going, “when is this going to end?” The effects work is also incredibly well done, which it should be, since ILM is behind it. The suit itself, and the building of it all is handled really well and is one of the best parts of the film. The handling of stark in the suit was also done very well and could have been a spot that didn’t really work all that well, but Favreau pulls it off with ease.
The humor in the film is also worth mentioning as it is very good. From Stark’s arguing with his robotic assistants, to his womanizing, to his all around smart ass delivery to everyone and everything, it pretty much always works.
The reason it all works so well is due to the great Robert Downey Jr. He carries this film with ease and is by far the most fun and entertaining super hero alter ego since Logan “Wolverine” in the first two X-Men films. Downey is so fun and likable that his charisma alone is worth the price of admission. I would even go as far as to say that I would pay to see a Tony Stark film, without the Iron Man, he is that good.
The rest of the cast is also great with Paltrow playing the romantic card perfectly against Downey and rarely dipping into damsel in distress sappiness, maybe for like one quick take. Terrence Howard is great as well, but he will really get to shine in the inevitable sequel where he will get to throw on a suit. Jeff Bridges does an admirable job of evolving into an enemy as the power hungry executive. Though, the weakest part of the film is his arc (not his acting, that is still very good), and I am practically nit picking as he has a couple of menacing scenes.
In the end, Iron Man, is fun, has some great action, is really funny at times, and Robert Downey Jr. is a joy to watch. Any minor complaints fall in the lack of a real villain and maybe one more action set piece, but we can work on that in the sequel. If you are a fan of summer blockbusters and comic book films, this is a very good fit for you and I think that the Stark character is appealing enough and enigmatic enough to transcend the comic book crowd. This comes highly recommended and is a great start to the summer season!


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